A/N at the end. Love to reviewers. Warning: A single 'F-Word' gets used.
" I still don't see' Draco complained ' why they have to be here for this." He stretched himself into a sulky mass of teenager on the bed, ignoring the glare from the other side of the room.
" I don't see why he gets to be here. I was the first character you ever wrote. Well, Snape and I."
The Trio, along with a very unhappy looking Snape, were crunched together behind a masking tape line the author had insisted on erecting. The Death Eaters, having claimed the majority of the furniture, were clustered on the other side in various stages of repose.
" Because all y'all are characters in this story. Not to mention, you know as well as I do that you aren't the same Harry as the one in ' The Punishment Should Fit the Crime'."
Both boys huffed and looked away. The author went back to work but something wouldn't gel. It slid about her brain like an air bubble, chafing, working, unable to move. She sighed loudly and bent to retrieve her sneakers from their place under the slumbering Wormtail. He snored loudly and flopped, and Lucius quickly took the place where the man's head had been for his legs. The sneakers were still trapped.
" Could I prevail upon you to move him for me?" Lucius shrugged elegantly.
"Gentle lady, I have no wand. You took it from me. If you were to restore my wand to me…" He trailed off suggestively, giving her a small smirk. She turned away and took hold of her boot instead.
" If I arm you, you'll attack. We've been through this." The Death Eaters scowled as one.
She retrieved her purse and started for the door. " May I inquire where you are going?"
" The library. Why do you ask?"
His eyes raked her up and down. "Like that?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" She narrowed her eyes at his bland, polite face.
" He means we wouldn't let a house elf go about like that." Draco smirked.
" How pleasant for your elves. If you'll excuse me, everyone, I'm off. Please don't break anything while I'm gone."
"Do you really feel it advisable' the man she thought was Rudolphus asked from his post in the corner ' to leave us all here with them?" He elegantly tipped his head at the teens huddled in the corner.
She gave him her most charming smile. "I had rather hoped, sir, that good manners would prevent an attack on fellow guests while in my home."
" Ah, but Madam, this is war, not a house party. Surely you cannot expect that we would behave the same now as we would it time of peace."
" True enough. The fact remains, though,-- Mr. Lestrange?' He nodded. ' That I expect all of you to behave with restraint while here."
The Dark Lord spoke up from his seat on the couch. " Perhaps, Madam, we should discuss this issue at greater length."
She threw up her hands. "Never going to get this paper done. All right, let's talk terms."
He gave her a twitch of his cheeks that might have been a smile.
" If you should return our wands to us, then I would see that my—friends—did not hurt the children."
" They wouldn't have to. You're more than capable. Besides which, your wands don't work here. You have no need of them."
" Are you sure the wands don't work?"
" Bel- Madam Lestrange tried to cruciate me several times when she first arrived and nothing happened."
He considered. " Yes, but perhaps the presence of so many wizards and witches may well prove a conduit for all of us to work at least limited magic."
" Where's the benefit to me in that? Y'all could decide you don't need me anymore."
Voldemort laughed, a hiss like sound that echoed in the little room. " Madam, if we didn't need you then you wouldn't be here."
" Suppose I should return wands—two at a time, to people of my choosing. Then what?"
He paused. " An excellent question. Would it sway you to know we would all be more comfortable with our wands?"
" Would it sway you to know I'd rather not see my guests blasted away at first chance?"
She gave the matter some thought. " Snape?"
"Would it be possible to bind everyone in a pact of some sort? To see that no one gets cursed to oblivion?"
Snape nodded slowly. " It would be."
" Will you help me?"
He gave her a nasty grin. "Why should I?"
" Because if you don't, I'll petition to bring Neville Longbottom through."
Snape considered. " How do I know he won't show up here anyway?"
She smiled. "Faith."
Thirty minutes later it was done. She took the wands from her shoe rack and stood in the middle of the room. "Hermione? Mr. Lestrange?" They came forward and took their wands. One by one everyone was armed.
Barred from violence, the witches and wizards cast harmless spells to test their power. All except Bellatrix. She stood alone, humming, eying the Trio with burning malevolence. The author felt uneasiness bloom in her spine.
Bellatrix raised her wand. "Morsmordre." The Dark Mark bloomed in the middle of the ceiling, like it was mocking the people below. The room was silent. Then, like the voice of prophet, Bellatrix's strident crow rang out: " Master, I've seen the most wonderful clown."
No studying was accomplished that night. As the Mark burned above them, the author restarted the DVD and watched as the most evil wizards in Rowling's Britain, plus the Boy who Lived and his friends, watched in stunned silence.
For about five minutes. Then the commentary started. And continued.
" Must we continue to rot our minds with this filth?"
" Are you serious? It's brilliant!"
" Is the clown not magnificent? You, woman! Are you certain he isn't a wizard? He just used fiend-fyre. He must be a wizard. Why did you lie and say he was not, muggle? Do you wish to incite my wrath?"
"It's not fiend-fyre, he used explosives. It's science."
" Look, Weasley, that man is wearing your coat. A homeless person? How surprising he'd share a coat with a Wea--"
The bed erupted into a melee of swinging fists and swearing. Lucius, Snape and Rudolphus managed to get the fight broken up with minimal damage to the combatants but the author had reached breaking point.
" Why? Why? Why? I thought the pact would stop people being violent." She turned to Voldemort, who watched the whole thing with detachment. " Is this what having followers is like?"
He nodded. "Worse."
Snape interjected from her side. " It only stops magical violence."
She walked to where the boys were being held. They were restrained but far from finished with one another, panting and cursing. She stood before them and fixed them with her most awful glare.
" How old are you, Ron? Harry? Draco?" They muttered.
" Did you say seventeen, or five? Because you're all acting five. Aren't you ashamed to behave like this?"
" He insulted my--"
" And you played into it. Has that ever solved anything in the past?"
No one said anything. She turned to the adults. " Does no one have a comment?"
" I'm tired of this. I can't work, I can't sleep. It's always something. It stops tonight."
She walked to the end of the row and looked Draco in the eye. Drew back her hand and
Crack " You will stop' went to Ron Crack'acting like idiots or I will' finally Harry Crack 'Make your lives a living Hell. Is that clear, gentlemen?"
They rubbed the sides of their heads in absolute shock. The author felt a rough hand on her arm. "How dare you hit my son?"
" How dare the lot of you refuse to deal with this? I'm sorry I didn't ask but this has to end. I have to study and go to work and sleep. The Muse will speak in her own time, but for now we all have to live together."
Lucius couldn't hit a woman but his wife felt no similar compunction. She grabbed the first thing that came to hand, the author's wooden hairbrush, and promptly commenced hitting wherever she could reach.
" Owww! Fuck, that thing really hurts! Oww, hey, enough! I didn't kill him!" Narcissa put the brush down, breathing hard.
" Are we even? Then let's talk about ground rules. There will be no snide remarks unless I'm the one making them. There will be no fist fights. Everyone will be polite and, if they can't do that, they'll ignore the other person. Finally, I will get everyone some food but the next person who drains my bottle dies a slow death. Are we clear?"
Nods. "All right then, I'll restart the movie."
The Muse remained silent. At least everyone was slowly habituating. The author could go to class without worrying they would all be dead when she got home.
Still, the incident nagged her mind. One night she watched Bellatrix, Narcissa and Hermione looked at her collection of muggle periodicals, especially her fashion magazines. Only Narcissa was really interested.
" Muggle, why are these woman so thin and yourself so fat? Did you not read closely enough?"
" Trixie! How rude!"
Bellatrix shrugged. " Are you saying it's a lie?"
" That's irrelevant. It's still rude."
They argued back and forth a moment until Hermione spoke up. " I suppose unless she was offended—were you?—then no harm was done."
"The filthy little mud blood speaks truth. Come sit with me and I shall enlighten you further."
An idea, awful and wonderful, sprang into the author's head. She grinned. Sat down. Began to type. The women, the events of the last few days, that horrible hairbrush. Hmmm. She wrote for almost an hour and it felt like expelling a long held breath.
Smiling, she put the finishing touches on what she thought was a one shot. What to call it?
She looked at the people around her, and despite herself felt a great fondness for them all. Even Wormtail. Even Bellatrix. She thought hard and then it came to her.
" A Delightful Diversion" she wrote, and then, still smiling, went to post it.